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It's Summer: Toss Meats on the Grill; Don't Forget the Veggies

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For heart-healthy barbecues this summer, add veggies and fruit to the grill instead of making traditional dishes like potato or macaroni salad. (pixabay)
For heart-healthy barbecues this summer, add veggies and fruit to the grill instead of making traditional dishes like potato or macaroni salad. (pixabay)
 By Roz Brown - Producer, Contact
May 25, 2018

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Memorial Day weekend marks the beginning of summer – and for most people, barbecue season. Whether you prefer your meat on the rare side or really well done, it's never a good idea to insist on charring the surface – because there's some evidence it can be bad for your health.

Holly Swee, a registered dietician with the South Dakota Beef Industry Council, says everyone who grills should have a meat thermometer. The other secret? Don't rush the process.

"Always cook over medium or medium-low heat, and that really depends on what kind of grill you're using, but if you're using charcoal, a good rule of thumb is wait till those charcoals are ash-colored," says Swee.

The Beef Council notes there are many lean or extra-lean beef cuts certified by the American Heart Association for providing healthy proteins. Other tips for grilling safe and healthy this summer are online at 'heart.org.'

In addition to beef, Swee says fish, skinless chicken breast and lean ground poultry are all good choices. But for a truly healthy-heart meal, you need to add a lot of color to the plate.

"We also want to remember to, again, pair that product with your fruits, vegetables and whole grains," says Swee. “Asparagus is in season right now, zucchini – all on the grill; you can put it on tinfoil to grill it up."

Swee notes it's important to keep the grill clean for each use, and not get distracted when grilling, because carcinogens are formed when dripping fat causes the fire to flare up, smoke and char the meat.

"Make sure you trim any exterior fat first, and another tip that may help prevent charring is a marinade," says Swee. “Marinades are really good for flavor as well as tenderization."

The American Heart Association reminds those barbecuing this summer to "right-size" portions, sticking to three ounces of meat – a serving about the size of a deck of cards – and no more than six ounces. It also notes cuts labeled 'loin,' 'round,' or 'select' grades are always healthier than those labeled 'prime.'

Best Practices